Although Twitter and Facebook are arguably two of the most popular social media destinations, a study shows that 69% of adults have no real idea what Twitter is or does. When I ask many of my peers if they are on Twitter, many times I either get a resounding “Yes!” followed by their Twitter username or a resounding “I find it confusing…what is it exactly…?”. There are not many in-betweens. In fact, according to the 2010 Social Media Marketing Report, Twitter is one of the social media tools most businesses want to learn more about. Today, I hope to give you a quick tutorial.
TWITTER AT A GLANCE
Twitter is a social site built around the question “What are you doing?”. Users choose to follow one another at will – there is no “friending”, so to speak. Users can easily follow companies, celebrities, magazines, authors and fellow peers, among others. Those users can either choose to follow you back or not. Twitter gives users to 140 characters to communicate. This is because Twitter was originally used primarily through mobile networks (cell phones and such) and it was a good amount for a single text. Sign-up is free.
UNDERSTANDING A TWITTER PAGE
Picking A Name: A fantastic tip to keep in mind – pick a short, effective name as your handle counts towards the 140 characters. Since most of us are interested in social media for brand management, do pick a name that represents your business and that is easy to remember. It is up to you how many accounts you manage, but most prefer to handle one username/one account. For instance, my username is @Fauxology and that catches everything I do for my business and my Fauxology blog.
Customizing Your Page: Twitter allows a user to customize their page. You can easily do so under the “Design” area in the Settings menu. I would also upload a great picture, write a compelling bio (many times there is only chance for someone to decide to follow you or not) and since you can only link one site, make it the best website you can provide.
Twitter has a few things that I would consider Twitter “language”. Here is a snapshot of my page. You can see how I have various tweets going on (left hand side). On the right, you can also easily see how many people you are following, how many are following you, how many tweets you’ve sent out along with other information such as your bio and pic.
As you see my page above, please do keep some Twitter-isms in mind:
1) @ – The symbol will appear before every username. You must use it if you’d like your message to get to a particular person. You can do so like this:
@FauxMi Hi, Rima! So nice to meet you at IDAL and look forward to keeping in touch!
I just had a great conversation with @DesignAmour about her upcoming Hearst Castle stencils. SO excited!
The username will come up as a colored link to that user so anyone can click on their name to follow them and/or learn more information about them. In the first one, I’m merely sending a message to my friend Rima Berchara (@FauxMi) about finally meeting her in person. In the second, I’m relaying my happiness at speaking with Melanie Royals (@DesignAmour) about the great addition to her stencil line. Each shows a tweet that shares information and each user I speak of will see this tweet since I have added the @ symbol and their username.
2) RT – This means “ReTweet”. It’s when you have enjoyed another user’s tweet and you’d like to repost it on your account for your followers to see. You can add a comment of your own to it or leave it as is. A RT is a compliment to the original user as it shows they provided an interesting link, comment and/or idea. For instance:
Can’t wait to read it! RT @FauxImpressions Las Vegas Design Market was great! Look for a feature next week on my blog!
You will see how I send a message to Ed Mattingly of Sherwin-Williams (@FauxImpressions) with respect to his tweet about Las Vegas. The letters RT must be in place before the username you are re-tweeting but you can add your message before or after their tweet. I always choose to put it beforehand.
3) #FF – This means “FollowFriday”. Every Friday, tweeters worldwide recommend the users whose tweets they enjoy and think you might enjoy following. It’s not mandatory at all – in fact, I participate 1 – 2 per month in my recommendations to others. Here’s an example:
Great Museums for #FF @OMAOrlando @artinstitutechi @smithsonian @metmuseum
You can see how I’ve recommended four museums that would be great to follow. I provide the username as well as a little description of my recommendation.
TWITTER USER OPTIONS
Twitter provides many great ways to engage with the community at large. You can send a celebrity a message, join in a conversation easily and e-meet fellow industry members as well. It’s so easy to socialize on Twitter! You can also use other options to search for specific organizations, terms and organize your page.
1) Lists – Lists are an option you can use to create – you got it – personal lists of Twitter users. I have lists for artists, publications, photographers, bloggers, etc. It makes it easy for me to look up these lists instead of looking through my entire list of followers and followees for specific information. A search engine is also provided for you so that you can use it to quickly search for terms. I use it to look up “faux finishing”, “murals”, “gorgeous rooms” or “decorative painting” to name a few. One track mind here!
2) # – This means “hashtag”. It’s put together before a term so that others on Twitter can easily see a Twitter stream on it. Others also use it for fun.
I’m looking for a great local Chicago organization to #volunteer for during Thanksgiving. Any ideas?
We tackled one heck of a ceiling today – my neck is killing me! #what wasithinking
The hashtag can go anywhere in the tweet and it will come up as a colored link when it posts so that others can easily see all the others who are tweeting about the same subject. Here, the hashtags were #volunteer (legitimate) and #whatwasithinking (fun). Some of the most popular hashtags are #news, #economy, #oprah, #glee – you get the picture.
Hashtags are also a way to see what the most popular subjects on Twitter are. They are what determines what is “trending on Twitter”.
3) Tweet Chats – Users began using the hashtag for to organize like-mind groups to have “chats” or conversations at a specific time online. For instance, I started a decorative painting industry tweetchat with three other users (Barbara Rocha @PaintALifestyle, Aaron Cohen @StuccoItaliano and Vancover’s @DarrellMorrison). The hashtag is #DecArts – this way, anyone looking to participate in the chat, see it later or tweet a message to the entire community can use that to get the message out. Do note that there are chats for many subjects – I’ve seen some on Getting Published (#getpublished), interior design (#designtv), personal branding (#brandchat) and blogs (#blogchat). Just run a google search and you can easily find a chat relevant to any subject you are interested in.
4) Images – Twitter recently gave a way to share images instantly. It used to be you had to use an outside source such as TwitPic but now you can easily do it now from your screen. Just like in other social sites, it is the norm to tweet one pic at a time.
I hope you do join us for the next Tweet Chat for the decorative painting community. We hold the #DecArts chats once per month with special subjects and guests. The topics vary from business to creative and back again. They always run for an hour and you can join in at any time.
The next chat is scheduled for Saturday, August 27th at 1 pm, EST. Our special guest is Scotland’s Cait Whitson talking about woodgraining, marbling and gilding. Cait is going on a US tour in September and giving incredible classes in two studios (East Coast – The Studio Destin and West Coast – Lynne Rutter’s Studio). You can join in and ask questions from a Master on those subjects – the chats usually turn into a lively conversation with great information given.
I always use TweetChat to join a #DecArts conversation. It gives you a real-time chat room and automatically inserts the #DecArts hashtag into your tweet to make it easy for you to follow the conversation. It’s absolutely free and easy to use.
A LAST WORD
Twitter is a great way to engage – I actually find it easier to gain access to a larger community of sources than most other sites. For the past few years, I’ve actually learned of major world news first on Twitter. Once you understand the dynamics of the site, you will find it easy to navigate and socialize within the network. It is a real-time conversation happening at the speed of life – no better way to say it than that. I would suggest to tweet quality information as often as you can.
To make it easier for me to follow the conversation on Twitter, I use their TweetDeck software. It’s free, easy to install and has a great Help section to help you get started. Don’t let the name fool you — you can also use it to monitor your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
To get even more in-depth information all in one place, try the Mashable Twitter Guide Book. It has video tutorials along with a complete guide to the entire site. I highly recommend it. Do feel free to post any questions you may have in the comments section – I’m here for you! See you on Twitter!